Real Old School: Professor: Dr. William Patterson Brings Hip Hop To Urban Neighborhoods 

In the early 1900s, poor black sharecroppers couldn't attend school  so Booker T. Washington, president of the Tuskegee Institute, brought the proverbial mountain to them.

The Jessup Wagon was a school-on-wheels that engaged sharecroppers in the South without the need for desks, walls or windows.

Now, Dr. William Patterson, a professor of educational policy at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, is using the same idea with the N Search of Hip Hop Express, a way to educate black youth in their own neighborhoods.

Weaving hip hop into history, social activism and community-building, Patterson has produced more than 60 educational and social enrichment programs that infuse elements of hip hop culture into public schools. He's using Facebook and blogging as well to spread the message.

Urban communities have a disconnect right now. Many young black Americans in these neighborhoods feel isolated and uninvested in their surroundings.

Patterson's N Search of Hip Hop Express was designed to engage urban youth - or, as he points out, the descendants of sharecroppers - using the aesthetic of the city. He and his team revamped a mobile airstream trailer and submerged it in hip hop. They covered it with graffiti art reflective of the musical history within black America, including images from iconic singer Bessie Smith to rap legend Kool Moe Dee.

Then he brought this black history on wheels to the neighborhoods of black youth to teach them about media and technology.

During a recent podcast interview, he shares an example. In East St. Louis, N Search of Hip Hop Express helped neighborhood youth focus on archiving the history around them. Students learned about Miles Davis, an East St. Louis native son. They went to a former home of the legend, which was in need of a resurrection.

Patterson wanted to not only preserve the landmark home, but also offer cultural renewal to the surrounding area by re-introducing art and culture inspired by the jazz icon's music. He collaborated with The Joseph Center, a local non-profit.

Once the trailer rolled into the neighborhood, the music became an invitation for residents to participate in an authentic history lessons about their own community. Young people were encouraged to interview community members, including homeless veterans who shared important and historic lessons. Through learning about the folks next door, young people were able to add new value to, not only their neighbors but their 'hood.

Shortly after hip hop found its place in popular society, the music at the root of the culture found a new purpose. It became an educational tool. Through that music, rappers like KRS-1 and Nas saw the value in edutainment. Teaching black history through poetic lyrics and expanding an audiences vocabulary became the norm. As the hip hop movement grew, it found a place in the contemporary classrooms. Urban youth responded in school settings as teachers infused hip hop into subjects ranging from english to algebra. Now it seems the music and the movement is behind another educational pursuit beyond school grounds.

N Search of Hip Hop Express' education-on-wheels philosophy offers an example of what some educational systems have missed: Community involvement. Not only are students educated about their neighborhoods, they also receive a wake-up call. Education doesn't stop in the classroom. Here's hoping the Express is able to continue its commitment to education and community, and inspire others to do the same.

Article by Tarice Gray thank you to Change.org - photo via N Search Of Hip Hop Express

Added by: Watcher, 20/Jun/24 | Comments: 0
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